Tag Archives: motherwell

Neil Lennon raging at Celtic snub in Player of the Year

A slap in the face! Lennon's anger at Celtic stars' absence from PFA shortlist

By
Stephen Mcgowan

PUBLISHED:

12:26 GMT, 25 April 2013

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 25 April 2013

Neil Lennon has vowed to boycott the PFA Scotland awards dinner — after branding the absence of any Celtic stars from the Player of the Year shortlist ‘abysmal’.

A vote by the nation’s professional players ahead of the Players’ Union dinner will see Motherwell’s Michael Higdon, Inverness Caley Thistle’s Andrew Shinnie, Aberdeen’s Niall McGinn and Hibernian’s Leigh Griffiths battle it out for the top prize.

Irate that the feats of his players in winning the SPL title and reaching the last 16 of the Champions League have earned no recognition from their peers, however, Lennon — who is likely to be shortlisted for Manager of the Year — will vote with his feet on May 5 by staying away from the annual Glasgow dinner.

Three out of four: (from left) Niall McGinn, Andrew Shinnie and Michael Higdon are up for the PFA Scotland award

Three out of four: (from left) Niall McGinn, Andrew Shinnie and Michael Higdon are up for the PFA Scotland award

‘I won’t go, no,’ said the Celtic boss.

‘The players haven’t discussed that yet. There weren’t many of them in yesterday, so I’ll speak to them tomorrow and see how they feel about it.

‘I’m surprised to say the least. Are you voting for the best player in Scotland or are you voting for the most improved player

‘I have no axe to grind with any of the nominees — I think that they have all had fine seasons.

‘But for none of our first-team players to be on the senior shortlist is bewildering to say the least.

‘I think the outcome of those votes yesterday belittles all those efforts from the players. It is abysmal.’

Not good enough: Neil Lennon has hit out after his Celtic players were overlooked for the PFA Scotland award

Not good enough: Neil Lennon has hit out after his Celtic players were overlooked for the PFA Scotland award

Celtic players have won the PFA Scotland award in the main category in six of the last seven years.
Of the view that their peers have taken his side’s domestic dominance for granted in the absence of Rangers, however, Lennon describes the perceived snub to his team as a ‘slap in the face’.

‘The players are not happy. They feel as if they’ve been slapped in the face, almost. There was a bit of ill-feeling there yesterday,’ he said.

‘I do feel the influence you media guys have — and I’m not blaming you guys — with the nonsense about “one-horse race”, “foregone conclusion” and “no competition” all plays a part in people taking the club, or the players, for granted.

‘Hooper’s got 28 goals this season and
people keep telling me that he’s not having his best season. But he’s
two goals short of 30, which is a pretty decent return for a
24-year-old.’

Young guns: Dundee United pair Gary Mackay-Steven (left) and Stuart Armstrong (right) are nominated with Celtic's Victor Wanyama

Young guns: Dundee United pair Gary Mackay-Steven (left) and Stuart Armstrong (right) are nominated with Celtic's Victor Wanyama

‘We made the last 16 of the Champions League with 10 points, which is a record for a Scottish team.

‘And on a budget which was very limited compared to other clubs in the past — so these players have performed heroically.

‘Semi-final of the League Cup, Scottish Cup Final, championship … I don’t think they could have done much more this season, really, and for that not to be recognised by their peers is very disappointing.’

Aberdeen midfielder Jim Bett was the last non-Old Firm player to collect the accolade, back in 1989-90.

Celtic’s Charlie Mulgrew collected the main prize last year.

Scottish football fans handed community service after violent clash in retail park

Fans spared jail over violent clash between Dundee and Hamilton fans in retail park

By
Matt Coyle

PUBLISHED:

14:30 GMT, 23 April 2013

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UPDATED:

16:36 GMT, 23 April 2013

A gang of hooligans who fought rival fans in a busy retail park as horrified families looked on escaped jail today.

The violent bust-up unfolded at New Douglas Retail Park in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, between supporters of Hamilton Academical and Dundee.

Two gangs of up to 30 'casuals' ran riot, battered each other and even spat at disgusted onlookers.

Shaun Murray, 27, Liam Fullerton, 18,
Daniel Weir, 21, Jamie Gilchrist, 29, all from Dundee, and Joseph
Roeves, 19, from Hamilton, were on trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court last
month.

Walking free: (left to right) Shaun Murray, Liam Fullerton, and Jamie Gilchrist must do community service

Walking free: (left to right) Shaun Murray, Liam Fullerton, and Jamie Gilchrist must do community service

They had denied fighting and causing fear and alarm on the day of a Scottish First Division match on December 3, 2011.

A jury found them guilty but on Tuesday they walked free from court after Sheriff Ray Small ordered each of them to perform 250 hours of unpaid work.

However he refused to hand down Football Banning Orders despite prosecutors asking for them to be imposed.

A 13-day trial had heard how shoppers and young children were forced to run into shops for cover as the violent encounter unfolded.

The gangs, who all dressed in casual clothes and wore no football colours, fought and launched bottles at each other. One innocent man who was with his young daughter was even spat at by one of the thugs.

Sales manager Sean Bicknell, 28, described how mayhem had erupted when the gangs clashed near Accies’ ground.

He
said: 'It was mayhem. I would describe it as a large scale disorder. It
wasn’t just one on one fights going on. It was four on one. My
impression was it was an organised event.'

Lyndsay Farrell, 31, from Motherwell, was shopping in the area at the time the fight broke out.

She told the court how she was forced to take cover in her car as the shocking incident spiralled out of control.

Scary scenes: The violence erupted at at New Douglas Retail Park in Hamilton, Lanarkshire

Scary scenes: The violence erupted at at New Douglas Retail Park in Hamilton, Lanarkshire

Miss Farrell said: 'I could see people in front of me who had a hold of one male. They were punching and kicking him and tried to drag him to the ground. A lot of them had bloody noses and things.'

Defence lawyers for all five men said the incident was out of character for them and only Roeves had a previous conviction.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Small said: 'We had to sit through a very lengthy trial about the activities and actions of the accused and particularly those who travelled from Dundee.

'I am in no doubt that those who travelled down got involved in a very unpleasant incident.

'I want to make it clear that if there was evidence that any of you had been personally involved in knocking anyone to the ground, throwing bottles or other violence you would be receiving a prison sentence.

'However it is unclear from the evidence whether you were directly involved in the disorder or were on the fringes but the fact you got involved means you deserve to be punished.

'I will impose a Community Payback Order of 250 hours to be completed over 12 months.'

Sheriff Small said he would tell Hamilton Accademical and Dundee FC of the convictions.

Ryan Devaney, 23, of Dundee had earlier walked free after the jury found the charge against him not proven.

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0 match report: Gary Hooper"s 18th of the season extends Bhoys" lead

Celtic 1 Motherwell 0: Hooper's 18th of the season extends Bhoys' lead at the summit

PUBLISHED:

17:05 GMT, 2 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:17 GMT, 2 January 2013

Gary Hooper's late strike gave Celtic victory over Motherwell in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League encounter at Parkhead.

Hoops keeper Fraser Forster made a brilliant save from Tom Hateley's penalty, awarded for Kelvin Wilson's challenge on Jamie Murphy, just before the Englishman converted a Georgios Samaras cross from close range with 11 minutes remaining.

Not for the first time this season at home, though, the champions ended up struggling to get three points from a match that should have been over by the interval.

Well keeper Darren Randolph kept Celtic at bay with a series of saves although there were some glaring misses too before Hooper pounced to take Neil Lennon's side into the winter break nine points clear of Inverness at the top of the table.

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

It's that man again: Gary Hooper slots past Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Ambrose (Rogne 84), Wilson, Izaguirre, Commons (McGeouch 82), Kayal (Watt 72), Wanyama, Mulgrew, Samaras, Hooper. Subs not used: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt, Chalmers.

Booked: Mulgrew, Kayal, Wanyama, Forster.

Goal: Hooper 79.

Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley, Kerr, Ramsden, Hammell, Humphrey, Law, Lasley, Francis-Angol (Daley 86), Ojamaa (McHugh 86), Murphy. Subs not used: Hollis, Higdon, Carswell, Hetherington, Cummins.

Booked: Ojamaa, Lasley.

Referee: Steven McLean.

Latest SPL table, fixtures and results

However, Motherwell manager Stuart
McCall, set to lose forward Murphy to Sheffield United this week, will
wonder how different it might have been had Hateley scored from the
spot.

Lennon made four changes and returned
to a back four after admitting three at the back did not work in the
1-0 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday.

In came Adam Matthews, Beram Kayal,
Kris Commons and Charlie Mulgrew with skipper Scott Brown, Mikael
Lustig, Lassad Nouioui and Thomas Rogne dropping out, the latter two on
the bench.

Motherwell showed two changes with
Fraser Kerr and Zaine Francis-Angol in for Shaun Hutchinson and Michael
Higdon, the big striker consigned to the bench where he watched the home
side's whirlwind start suggest a demolition job.

Samaras had the ball in the net from Commons' cross in the second minute but was flagged offside.
Commons then flashed a shot from the edge of the box just wide after
being set up by Hooper, who then turned and drove wide after taking a
Kayal pass with his back to goal.

In the seventh minute Randolph made a
fine save from Hooper's stab from close range after more good work on
the left from Samaras, before tipping stand-in skipper Mulgrew's curling
free-kick over the bar for a corner.

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

Hands on: Fraser Forster saves Tom Hateley's penalty

There was no let-up in the pressure
on the Motherwell goal and moments later Randolph flew to his left to
pluck a goal-bound Commons shot out of the air.

The Hoops support groaned once more
when Victor Wanyama then missed Mulgrew's corner altogether from eight
yards, allowing Well to clear their lines.

Murphy, skipper for the day, should
have put the visitors ahead following a break in the 20th minute when he
was played in by Keith Lasley but he lashed the ball over the bar.

Defender Efe Ambrose guided Mulgrew's whipped-in free-kick past the near post from six yards out.
Motherwell slowly grew in confidence as the first half wore on.

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

Mixed emotions: Neil Lennon applauds Hooper's winner

In the 37th minute Murphy tested
Forster with a drive from the edge of the box and moments later curled a
shot from 14 yards past the far post after working his way past Kayal
and into a good shooting position.

Samaras had a low drive from 20 yards saved by Randolph.

With seconds remaining Ambrose missed
the chance of the half when Randolph dropped Wanyama's header from a
Mulgrew corner, the Parkhead defender hooking the ball over the bar from
barely two yards.

Celtic had an unconvincing start to
the second period but with six minutes gone Randolph tipped a deflected
shot from Wanyama over the bar.

Celtic dropped the tempo which
allowed Well to breath slightly easier but Randolph was still seeing
plenty of the ball, making another decent save from Commons'
right-footed drive from 25 yards in the 67th minute.

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Watching brief: Norwich boss Chris Hughton was running the rule over potential targets at Parkhead

Both sides were taking turns to
attack but Motherwell were handed a great chance to take the lead when
referee Steven McLean adjudged Wilson to have tripped Murphy in the box.

There was some concern as to whether
Hateley had the ball on the spot or not – and Forster was booked for
pointing this out – but when the Motherwell player blasted his shot to
his left the Celtic flew across to make a great save.

The incident seemed to energise
Celtic and they were soon in the lead when Hooper played the ball to
Samaras and ran into the box to collect the return pass and slip the
ball under Randolph from six yards.

There were some nervy moments before the final whistle as Motherwell went for broke but in the end Celtic deserved their win.

West Ham Gael Givet, Salomon Kalou and Marouane Chamakh

Hammers eye move for Rovers defender Givet and wants strikers Kalou and Chamakh

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 30 December 2012

West Ham are weighing up a move for Blackburn Rovers French defender Gael Givet, 31, who is out of contract in the summer.

Manager Sam Allardyce remains keen on a loan for Lille forward Salomon Kalou and Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh.

Hammer time: Blackburn's Gael Givet is a target for West Ham

Hammer time: Blackburn's Gael Givet is a target for West Ham

Wanted man: Salomon Kalou

Marouane Chamakh

Wanted men: Salomon Kalou and Marouane Chamakh are West Ham targets

Leeds will compete with Norwich City for Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith. Swansea are hopeful of signing Bristol City winger Albert Adomah for 3m.

Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson is talking terms with Motherwell winger Jamie Murphy after agreeing a 100,000 fee.

Alex McLeish – 10 reasons why he"s the RIGHT man for Nottingham Forest

Angry Forest fans, read this… 10 reasons why Alex McLeish is the RIGHT man for your club

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UPDATED:

16:03 GMT, 28 December 2012

Alex McLeish has faced a backlash from many Nottingham Forest fans after being appointed to replace sacked Sean O'Driscoll.

After troubles with Birmingham and Aston Villa, it's fair to say not every Forest supporter has welcomed him back to the Midlands' football scene.

Here, Sportsmail offers up 10 reasons why he is a good fit for the ambitious Championship side…

First day at the office: McLeish has run the rules over his new players

First day at the office: McLeish has run the rules over his new players

1 Wealth of experience – you do not manage Motherwell, Hibernian, Glasgow Rangers, the Scotland national team, Birmingham City and Aston Villa in a managerial career spanning almost two decades unless you know your way around football.

2 He knows what is needed to win promotion – he did it with Hibernian in Scotland and Birmingham CIty in England.

3 Good contacts – Sir Alex Ferguson gave McLeish very public backing when he took over at Villa Park. It may only need one or two crucial additions for Forest to reach the top six – or better.

4 Players like him. Upon his appointment last night, both Ben Foster and Liam Ridgewell – who both played under McLeish at St Andrew's – immediately went on twitter to add their voices to the chorus of well-wishers.

Big fan: Ben Foster tweeted his admiration for McLeish after the news

Big fan: Ben Foster tweeted his admiration for McLeish after the news

5 He will receive more time than Sean O'Driscoll because he is a man chosen specifically for the post by the Kuwaiti owners.

McLeish targets promotion

McLeish oversaw his first training session and spoke to the press after being formally unveiled as the new Forest boss today.

He said: 'It looks like an absolutely wonderful challenge for me. It's been a whirlwind for me. A surprise but a very welcome surprise.

'We have to target getting into the top six – then we will be gunning for the Premier League.

'I took both jobs (at Birmingham and Aston Villa) when those clubs were in difficulty. The goal was to guide both to safety. And I was pleased that we got Villa over the line despite the horrors of that season.

'The key to success in this league is winning a succession of games. We did that at Birmingham and got back at the first time of asking.

'Everyone should be bursting to get back into the Premier League.'

6 He will have learnt from his experience at Villa Park which, frankly, was an unmitigated disaster for all concerned.

7 He is hungry for success. He needs another chance to re-establish his credentials.

McLeish is a proud man and won't want the Aston Villa experience to be his epitaph in football.

8 He's leaner! During his time out of the game he hired a personal trainer to get himself fit for action once more.

9 He
will uphold Forest's traditions, certainly off the pitch. He was a good
ambassador both at Birmingham City and Aston Villa. Club staff will
like him.

10 Forest's
fans are a reasonable bunch, they will give him a chance.

McLeish's
style is first and foremost to protect what he has got – it might lead
to more conservative football but it is more likely to be winning
football. And that, ultimately, is what he has been employed to bring to
Nottingham Forest.

The future's bright: Forest are aiming to reach the Premier League

The future's bright: Forest are aiming to reach the Premier League

Mark McGhee sacked as Bristol Rovers manager

McGhee sacked as Bristol Rovers manager after defeat at York

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UPDATED:

19:01 GMT, 15 December 2012

Mark McGhee has been sacked as Bristol Rovers manager after this afternoon's 4-1 defeat at York City.

The result leaves Rovers second bottom in League Two, having won just four of 22 matches so far. They have not won a match since November 10.

Chairman Nick Higgs said in a club statement: 'We had hoped that the appointment of Mark McGhee would give the club some stability and long term progress, but unfortunately that has not been the case.

Sacked: Mark McGhee and Bristol Rovers parted company after today's 4-1 defeat at York City

Sacked: Mark McGhee and Bristol Rovers parted company after today's 4-1 defeat at York City

'We have decided that we can no longer continue with the current situation and had to make the difficult decision to part company with Mark. We decided we had to act now before it was too late.'

The Scot, who had previously managed Leicester City, Wolves, Millwall, Brighton, Motherwell and Aberdeen, was appointed in January following the departure of Paul Buckle.

Just yesterday, McGhee spoke of his 'embarrassment' at the side's lowly position in League Two.

He told BBC Radio Bristol: 'I think all the other managers in this league would agree – you don't want to be in the bottom division of your league tier.

'On behalf of the fans, we should feel embarrassed to be in this league and to be in this position.'

Sunderland 0 Middlesbrough 1 – match report: Scott McDonald stuns Black Cats

Sunderland 0 Middlesbrough 1: McDonald stuns Black Cats and grabs Teeside glory

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UPDATED:

21:42 GMT, 30 October 2012

Martin O'Neill's halo is in danger of slipping after his side crashed out of the Capital One Cup in an embarrassing defeat to near-neighbours Middlesbrough.

The Championship side were thoroughly good value for their victory and a place in the quarter-finals, less than a year after they nearly pulled off an FA Cup triumph at the Stadium of Light.

Former Celtic striker Scott McDonald, who once denied O'Neill the Scottish title as a Motherwell player, scored the dramatic winner in the first half as the visitors totally outplayed their shot-shy hosts.

More to follow.

Aussie rules: Middlesbrough striker Scott McDonald (centre) celebrates scoring with Emmanuel Ledesma (left)

Aussie rules: Middlesbrough striker Scott McDonald (centre) celebrates scoring with Emmanuel Ledesma (left)

Back of the net: McDonald (centre, part obscured) flicks Middlesbrough into the lead at the Stadium of Light

Back of the net: McDonald (centre, part obscured) flicks Middlesbrough into the lead at the Stadium of Light

Close contest: McDonald (left) and Sunderland striker Stephane Sessegnon battle for the ball

Close contest: McDonald (left) and Sunderland striker Stephane Sessegnon battle for the ball

Committed: Middlesbrough's Grant Leadbitter (right) tries to stop Sunderland's Lee Cattermole

Committed: Middlesbrough's Grant Leadbitter (right) tries to stop Sunderland's Lee Cattermole

Match facts

Sunderland: Westwood, Bardsley, O'Shea, Cuellar, Colback, Johnson (Campbell 82), Cattermole, Vaughan, Sessegnon, Fletcher, Saha (McClean 69).

Subs not used: Mignolet, Wickham, McFadden, Kilgallon, Meyler.

Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Hines (Parnaby 65), Bikey, Friend, Ledesma (Reach 79), Leadbitter, Bailey, Haroun, Miller, McDonald.

Subs not used: Leutwiler, Zemmama, Halliday, Park, Smallwood.

Goal: McDonald 39

Booked: McDonald

Referee: Phil Dowd.

Attendance: 32,535

Click for the latest League Cup results and stats

Pressure mounting: Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill endured a difficult night for his side

Pressure mounting: Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill endured a difficult night for his side

Tricky: Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher, (right) attempts to get past Middlesbrough's Nicky Bailey

Tricky: Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher, (right) attempts to get past Middlesbrough's Nicky Bailey

Neil Lennon warns Celtic players not to wait for Barcelona

Save yourself for Barca and you'll be axed, blasts Celtic boss Lennon

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 29 October 2012

Celtic boss Neil Lennon has warned he will drop players from his plans to face Barcelona if he feels they are saving their best for the Champions League.

Lennon vented his anger about Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Kilmarnock at a squad meeting on Sunday and is demanding an instant response when St Johnstone visit for Tuesday’s Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-final.

Celtic’s first loss to Scottish opposition at Parkhead in 14 months came just four days after a battling 2-1 Champions League defeat at the Nou Camp.

Up for the cup: Neil Lennon's Celtic take on St Johnstone on Tuesday

Up for the cup: Neil Lennon's Celtic take on St Johnstone on Tuesday

The return match with Barca takes place in seven days’ time, but Lennon is willing to axe anyone neglecting domestic business beforehand.

‘There was just no excuse for the lack of quality in our overall performance on Saturday,’ said Lennon.

'Up until that, our domestic form had been blistering — if you look at Motherwell, Hearts, St Mirren. Interspersed was winning in Moscow, doing so well there. So their form going into the game was pretty good.

'It is still a learning process for me because of the different demands, and also for the players, who are maybe playing in the Champions League for the first time.

Hard graft: The Celtic players are put through their paces

Hard graft: The Celtic players are put through their paces

'But we can’t, and they can’t, pin all
their hopes on Champions League football and build their season around
these glamour games or whatever you want to call them.

‘The SPL is the priority and if they are going to do that, then they won’t play.

‘We made that clear when we met on Sunday.’

Against Kilmarnock, Lennon made five changes to the side that came within 30 seconds of a point in Barcelona. And he admitted it could take time for some of those involved to regain his full faith.

Return: Celtic's Scott Brown

Return: Celtic's Scott Brown

‘You can talk about fringe players, but
(James) Forrest has been playing, (Kris) Commons has been playing,
(Adam) Matthews has been playing,’ said Lennon.

‘(Beram) Kayal hadn’t been playing because he was injured but he came in last week at St Mirren. Miku has been in and out of the team.

‘So it’s not as if none of them have been playing. I don’t want them to be seen as bit-part players here, I really want them to be part of the squad like everyone else. When they play like that, it makes it a little bit more difficult for me to trust them.

‘They are going to have to earn that trust again.’

Lennon plans to field a strong side against St Johnstone as he aims to land the only domestic trophy he has not won during his time in charge.

Captain Scott Brown could be involved after his injured hip was rested on Saturday, but Lassad Nouioui, Georgios Samaras, Dylan McGeouch and Filip Twardzik all remain sidelined.

Francis Jeffers in talks with Maltese side Floriana

Journeyman Jeffers on the move again… this time to join Maltese side Floriana

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UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 10 October 2012

On the move: It looks like Jeffers is heading to Malta

On the move: It looks like Jeffers is heading to Malta

Former Arsenal, Everton and England striker Francis Jeffers is in talks with Floriana over a potential move to the Maltese outfit.

Jeffers joined Arsenal from Everton for 8million in June 2001, but his career in north London failed to take off.

He exited the Gunners three years later before joining Charlton, Rangers, Blackburn and Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Motherwell.

His one international cap came in 2003 and was England's goalscorer as the Three Lions were humiliated 3-1 by Australia at Upton Park.

Jeffers,
31, was released by Australian A-League side Newcastle Jets in the
summer and now looks set to join the Maltese Premier League outfit.

'We
hope to finalise all contract terms before the eagerly anticipated
derby against Valletta on 20 October,' said a statement on Floriana's
website.

Gary Hooper deserves England chance – Michael Walker

Stop the snobbery and give Hooper a chance for England

By
Michael Walker

PUBLISHED:

21:35 GMT, 7 October 2012

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UPDATED:

21:35 GMT, 7 October 2012

The five British clubs in the Champions League scored a total of 13 goals last week. One of those goals, and only one, was scored by an Englishman: Gary Hooper of Celtic.

Hooper’s slick, sharp finish against Spartak Moscow sent Celtic on their way to an historic victory in Russia and leant credibility to the international claims of the 24-year-old.

It was the fourth consecutive game in which Hooper had scored but as the previous three had been against Dundee, Raith Rovers and Motherwell, they received a sceptic’s response south of the border.

Top form: Hooper netted as Celtic won in Moscow

Top form: Hooper netted as Celtic won in Moscow

But last Tuesday was different, this was the Champions League, this could not be dismissed as lightly as Hooper’s four goals against Raith were.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has talked up his striker’s international merit but Roy Hodgson is yet to venture to Glasgow, or elsewhere, to see Hooper and left him out of his recent England squad.

Sunday was a chance for him to offer another reminder of his abilities, but Hooper didn’t get one chance in his 70 minutes in the 1-0 victory against Heart of Midlothian. Having begun the second half with a slight limp, Hooper was replaced. Those who were in Moscow said Hooper’s effervescent all-round display had sapped his dynamism.

‘He played well again today,’ said Lennon, ‘but he’s probably run himself to a standstill with the amount of football he’s played recently.’

So, if the FA had bothered to send anyone to Celtic on Sunday, they would have left not much the wiser. Hooper has demonstrably had more effective games.

Jumping through Hoops: Hooper had exhausted himself going into Sunday's win at Hearts

Jumping through Hoops: Hooper had exhausted himself going into Sunday's win at Hearts

He is one of those on-the-shoulder lurkers of a striker, who can also knit the play. He did so in bits and pieces but this was a tepid match centred in midfield – and for that reason Fraser Forster, the Celtic keeper called up by Hodgson, was quiet, too. The only goal was scored by former Manchester City man Georgios Samaras.

Hooper now gets a fortnight off before Celtic’s next Champions League game – at Barcelona – and may need the rest. But Lennon is hopeful Hooper will be in contention for England’s friendly against Sweden next month.

‘He’s hard to ignore,’ said Lennon. ‘His finish in Moscow was brilliant because it came at pace and he was running at pace. I don’t care what standard you play at, when you see that quality, you know he can do it at any level.’

That is central to an assessment of Hooper, or Forster, or anyone not in England’s Premier League. Because Hooper came to Celtic from Scunthorpe United there is a sniffiness towards him, part of a shallow notion that all players start at the same level.

This fails to take into account the
variety of development. The game is littered with exceptional teenagers
who did not progress to the anticipated standard, yet there remains
snobbery about footballers not beginning at Academy level.

In the mix: Fraser Forster has been called up to the England squad

In the mix: Fraser Forster has been called up to the England squad

Those with this view should be handed the video of Chris Waddle’s mesmeric years in Marseille. Waddle came through at Tow Law. At 22, Ian Wright was at Dulwich Hamlet. Hooper may not be in their class yet but it is the scale of his development that intrigues.

Lennon scouted Hooper personally when he was at Scunthorpe, so he is not an unbiased witness, but he said: ‘He’s developed physically and he’s got awareness, game intelligence. But he’s always been a goal scorer and the hardest thing in football is to score goals.’

Not in Scotland, comes the rebuttal. But Hooper probably thinks that scoring against the likes of Rennes and Udinese in the Europa League last season should have alerted some to his rising contribution.

He has had England disappointment before – 16 months ago Stuart Pearce took Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge – as well as Nathan Delfouneso and Connor Wickham – to the European Under 21 Championship, athough Hooper may console himself that he is now ahead of Delfouneso and Wickham.

But Welbeck, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll all began their weekend matches. That is competitive; so is scoring in the Champions League.

Clinical: Hooper's has a prolific goalscoring record

Clinical: Hooper's has a prolific goalscoring record

By the way…

Scrutiny of Ally McCoist grows with each Rangers setback. Losing at the great Stirling Albion scorches even an Ibrox hero. One day Rangers will finally hit the bottom.

Serie A's soul is dying

Fans wincing at Chelsea’s antics could spare a thought for Italian supporters. We need to believe what we are watching and the match-fixing and corruption scandals must have eaten into the soul of Serie A, contributing to the empty seats across Italy now.

Last week Andrea Masiello, a now former Bari defender, confirmed the worst perceptions when he received a suspended sentence for scoring a deliberate own goal.

This is fraud, but his sentence was suspended because of a ‘plea bargain’. Hard to believe on a few fronts.